Thursday, February 28, 2013

Book Review - Next Door Savior

I personally enjoy reading pretty much anything Max Lucado writes. I like the way he tells stories - they capture your attention and can be remembered and understood. I recently received the book Next Door Savior for review and am delighted for the opportunity to share it with you!

Show Your Community You Care . . . Offer Free Family Fun Events!

Churches used to be the center of community life - families went to church on Sunday, children went to church for school all week and the community used the church for gatherings and special events. Times have certainly changed. In far too many cases, today our churches are viewed as places for "church people", not places for the community. Let's think about how we can "throw open the doors of our churches", welcome our community in and see if we can re-establish our churches as the place where everyone goes and finds the center of their community life!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How Does Your Children's Ministry Support Parents With Special Needs Children?

I've been posting about family ministry and how to be intentional and effective in your family ministry, but what about your ministry to families where they have a child with special needs? Does your children's ministry provide the support and encouragement these parents need? Loretta Baughan wrote a powerful and thought provoking post on Modern Day Eugenics on her blog, STRAIGHT4ward with Loretta Baughan. Please take a moment to read this post and then consider the following . . . 

Make Intentional Prayer the Cornerstone of Your Family/Children's Ministry

Okay, I'm all for praying for one another, but how often when we pray for others do we pray "generic prayers" opposed to prayers specifically for someone? Even when we know someone has things we can pray about, how often do we actually talk to them to find out what they would most appreciate being remembered in prayer on their behalf? Yes, it takes time to sit down and actually talk to someone, but if we are serious about praying intentionally for those in our church and ministry, how can we do so if we do not first talk with the person we are praying for?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Fathers Matter . . . How Do We Translate This to Children's Ministry?

If our family ministries are going to be genuinely effective, we have to engage, educate and equip dads. I watched a short clip on YouTube about how fathers matter to a child's education. Take a moment to watch it and then consider the questions below . . . 

Family Ministry Resource . . . everyday talk!

As I've been saying, if we are serious about equipping, encouraging and supporting the parents in our church and community, we also need to be serious about finding, and getting the word out about, excellent resources to help parents be more effective in passing on a legacy of faith to their children. I just had the opportunity to review one such excellent resource . . . 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Expand "Faith Talks" and Equip Parents to Leave a Spiritual Legacy!

In my last post I shared an amazing free resource . . . "Faith Talks" and I encouraged everyone to implement this as a core part of your ministry to children and families. Consider taking the idea of "Faith Talks" and expand them to include the following . . . 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Equip Parents and Strengthen Families with "Faith Talk"

family-clip-artYesterday I shared Legacy Milestones with you and today I want to encourage you to take a serious look at another of their resources . . . "Faith Talk". "The biblical reason for having Faith Talks is found in Deuteronomy 6. As primary faith trainers, we as parents are commanded to impress these commands upon our children, talk to our children about them, as well as show them how to live them out in the ordinary tasks of life. In Proverbs 22:6, spiritual training takes place one step at a time in the context of everyday life. Relationship is your priority, the Bible is your handbook and life is your classroom. Teach your children about God, the Bible salvation and how to live by having family night devotions."

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Celebrate Milestones!

When I think of celebrating milestones in a child's and family's lives I think of two things. First of all I think about the idea a child has made a decision or done something or grown to a point where a milestone in their life has been reached. These are truly important moments and worthy of being celebrated, but in far too many instances we are all too busy to stop and notice and celebrate. The second thing I think about is the family. A milestone in a child's life is also a milestone in a family's life as well. Often the family had a big part to "play"  in the child reaching their milestone so the celebration is one not only for the child, but also for the family as well. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Two Free Resources for Parents - and Grandparents!

If we are serious about equipping parents so they are able to be the primary teachers, leaders and disciplers of their children, then we need to be "sharers of resources"! Let your parents - and grandparents - know of resources which provide information, ideas and tools which they might take advantage of as they strive to lead their children. So, today I have two free resources you could let the parents and grandparents in your ministry know about!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Continuity . . . Connect the Children's, Parent's and Family Ministries With Your Church!

If you have paid attention to be sure all areas of your children's ministry connect so the Sunday, Midweek, Summer and other ministries have continuity and are taking the time to connect the children's ministry with the parent's ministry, the last area to connect with is the other areas of your church! If your church is going to have a strong and healthy children's parent's and family ministry, it is important for the entire church to know what is happening in these ministries. Consider the following . . . 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Continuity . . . Connect the Children's and Parent's Ministries!

So . . . you have a vision and purpose for your children's ministry and you are watching to be sure each part of your ministry connects to the others, but have you collaborated with the leaders of your parent's ministry to be sure the children's and parent's ministries connect and have continuity? Consider the following . . . 

I Have a Winner!

I'm happy to announce Samwise is the winner in my Turn It Up VBS Music CD give-away! (You'll find the review at this link) Thank you Samwise for reading About the Children's Department (please message me your address by February 27, 2013 so I can send it to you) and thank you Orange for sending an additional CD for me to give away!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Continuity . . . No "Islands Unto Themselves"

Stop and think for a moment . . . do the various parts of your children's ministry "connect"? Do they compliment and reinforce one another or does each area "do their own thing" and are actually, "islands unto themselves"? If we are truly serious about being effective, then not only do we have to have a vision/plan for our children's ministry as a whole, but we have to be sure each area is connected to the other things we do in children's ministry. Consider the following . . . 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Continuity . . .

As we think about family ministry, I want to talk about an important topic . . . continuity. So, what is continuity and why does it matter when we talk about Family Ministry? What does it look like in children's ministry and how do we have it? How do we know if we do not have it? These are important questions to think about . . . and find answers to. Consider the following . . . 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Children's Ministry and Parent's Ministry = Family Ministry!

If you are serving in a children's ministry, then you have to care about the parent ministry of your church as well. Deuteronomy 6 makes it pretty clear the primary responsibility for pointing children to God lies with parents. "4Listen, Israel! The LORD our God is the only true God! 5So love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, and strength. 6Memorize his laws 7and tell them to your children over and over again. Talk about them all the time, whether you're at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning. 8Write down copies and tie them to your wrists and foreheads to help you obey them. 9Write these laws on the door frames of your homes and on your town gates." (CEV) Obviously, the parents are the ones who are with children at home, at bedtime and in the morning, so clearly, this call to disciple children is for parents.

Thank You!

I want to take a moment to thank everyone who has visited About the Children's Department during the months of January and February to read my VBS reviews and posts! Thank you! I'd also like to invite you to come back and make About the Children's Department one of the places you turn to for information, ideas and resources for children's ministry. The remainder of the month of February I'll be focusing on family ministry and then the month of March will be focused on safety in our children's ministries. Please take a moment to "like" About the Children's Department, share this blog with the people you know and join in the conversation all month long!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

March . . . Safety in the Church & Some Great Give-Aways!

March is only a couple weeks away, so I thought I'd let you know the entire month will be focusing on safety in children's ministry. I'll be reviewing some excellent resources for use in church - and have some great give-aways planned . . . including a bottle warmer from Cuisinart! 

So, please plan to read About the Children's Department and join in the conversation - I'd love to hear what you do to make your ministry a safe place!

I Have Two Winners!

I'm happy to announce Jan Surratt and Debbie Ketcham are the winners in my VBS puppet give-away - they will each receive one puppet . . . if you have a preference, please let me know! (You'll find the review at this link) Thank you Jan and Debbie for reading About the Children's Department (please message me your address by February 23, 2013 so I can have them sent to you) and thank you Concordia and Cokesbury for making these puppets available for me to give away!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Today is February 15th!

Yes, today is February 15th, the day after Valentine's Day when all the heart shaped candies go on sale! So, head out to the store and stock up!  Just think of all the things you could do with heart-shaped candies . . . if you have them . . .

I Have a Winner!

Profile Picture of Answers VBSI'm happy to announce Kim Pace is the winner in my Kingdom Chronicles Answers in Genesis VBS kit give-away! (You'll find the review at this link) Thank you Kim for reading About the Children's Department (please message me your address by February 22, 2013 so I can have it sent to you) and thank you Answers in Genesis for making a kit available for me to give away!

VBS 2013 - HayDay from Group

Weekend VBS HayDay Logo Color ThumbI'm delighted for the opportunity to share Group's weekend VBS with you . . . HayDay! The idea with this resource is to provide two affordable 2 1/2 hour sessions, plus a one hour celebration which churches could use over one weekend . . . or over three weekends . . . or they might be able to spread it out for one Saturday a month for a Summer of fun!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

VBS 2013 - Side-by-Side Comparison Chart - Update!

I've updated the side-by-side VBS Comparison chart for 2013 with the info on the kits I posted about last week. I will have one more update after I receive Go Fish's kit and Group's 3-day kit as well!

Please feel free to download and print as many of the charts as you need to help you as you make your VBS choices for 2013!

A Reminder About "Fluff" in VBS - What It Is and What It Is NOT!

Well, my 2013 VBS reviews are almost finished - I still am waiting for Go Fish and Group's 3-Day kit to arrive and will add them to my reviews as soon as they get here. Just like last year, you will find reviews on individual VBS resources and a side-by-side comparison chart. I also had posts covering all things VBS, from recruiting, training and promoting your VBS to additional ways to make use of these resources.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I Have a Winner!

I'm happy to announce Shaun Walters Morgan is the winner in my Mission Project Pack from Standard Publishing give-away! (You'll find the review at this link) Thank you Shaun for reading About the Children's Department (please message me your address by February 20, 2013 so I can have it sent to you) and thank you Standard for making it available for me to give away!

VBS 2013 - Turn it Up - from Orange - Full Review

My Turn It Up VBS kit arrived yesterday, so today 'm happy to update my post with the full review of Turn It Up from Orange! (I'll update my side-by-side chart tonight so keep watching for it.) "Get kids talking about the power of God's one big story - the Bible - and how it all connects together. They will learn how important it is to turn up the power of God's story in their lives!

Orange did a great job with the content and substance of this VBS resource and provide a lot of options for you. It it had been ready before January 1st it would have at least made my top five for sure! Take a look and consider if Turn It Up is a good "fit" for your children's ministry!

VBS Give-Away - Turn It Up Music CD from Orange!

I'm reposting my VBS give-away from Orange because I mistakenly deleted the post I had up earlier. Please take a moment to re-enter this give-away for their music. 

As Orange says; "One of the things which creates a great Summer XP is awesome music. You'll have the entire Turn it Up VBS Special Edition CD to enhance your worship environment with full songs and performance tracks. This album is packed with songs which will get your elementary kids jamming and grooving in celebration of the love we've received from God. This collection of songs is cranked to 10 in fun, praise and passion for God." The track list includes: 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Vacation Bible School Follow-up Which Really Follows Up!

So . . . you've given thought to your goal for Vacation Bible School 2013, evaluated VBS resources in light of their scope and theme then determined which one or two or more had the best "fit" for your unique ministry and made your selections. You are ready to recruit, train, support and appreciate your volunteers, but there is still one more thing to focus on . . . planning and implementing follow-up which really follows up!

For many churches VBS is their primary, and in some of those cases their only, outreach to their community for the year. It is so important you have a vision, passion and plan for your VBS which reaches beyond the five days of ministry. Along with having a goal for your VBS, be sure to think ahead and have a vision for what you will do after your VBS to reach out to the families touched by your VBS.

I Have Two Winners!

Christian Games and CraftsI'm happy to announce Tracy Stevens and Tammy Debrick are the winners of the one-year subscriptions from Christian Games & Crafts! (You'll find the review at this link) Thank you Tracy and Tammy for reading About the Children's Department and thank you Christian Games & Crafts for making this give-away possible! 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Don't Miss It!!! Mark Your Calendar for February 15th!!!

Yes, this Friday is February 15th! Why should you mark your calender for it, you ask? Because it is the day after Valentine's Day. What is significant about the day after Valentine's Day, you ask?  Because . . . it is the day all the heart-shaped candies go on clearance!!!! If you haven't already, make plans to head for your local store first thing and pick up some for use in your ministry! Just think of all the things you could do with heart-shaped candies . . . if you have them . . .

Surf's Up! Children's Ministry Resources Around the Web . . . CM Connect!

CMConnect - free kidmin networkI remember years ago when I began serving in children's ministry . . . resources were limited and unless you knew someone from another church or attended a convention, there was virtually no way to communicate with people from other churches from around the country - and most certainly not with people from around the world. Thankfully this is no longer the case! With the internet, resources, ideas and information as well as encouragement and answers to our questions are literally at our fingertips! As 2013 is beginning, it is the perfect time to comment to "connecting" with others who serve in CM!  You do not have to do this on your own!

After VBS is over . . . Follow-up!

So, when another year of VBS is finished; volunteers have gone home, your decorating team  puts away all props, posters and parts of VBS returning your church to “normal” what do you do next? What do you need to do to build on the work accomplished in VBS and how can you continue to minister to the non-church families VBS allowed you to touch? Too often we do not really follow-up with the contacts VBS gave us with non-church families . . . what can we do to show these families we want to serve them, not just their children, all year long?

Effective follow-up can be designed and accomplished without a large budget and without a large staff of volunteers if you focus on praying, evaluating and planning!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Take the Time to Support and Appreciate Your Vacation Bible School Volunteers!

There are so many things to think about and do when it comes to getting ready for your Vacation Bible School, but I want to add one more thing to your list. Don't worry . . . this thing is so much fun! Plan now to implement a complete volunteer support and appreciation ministry! In this day and age we are all so busy . . . and yet, in spite of being busy you have people who have volunteered to serve on your VBS team! We do not need any other reason to support and appreciate our volunteers!

I Have Winners!

I'm happy to announce Pam Ferrell, Pastor Tammy, Mary Beth Dawson and Shingshing03 (this is the name you left with your comment) are the winners of the Group VBS music CDs. Please message me your addresses by February 16, 2013 so I can send you each one CD - either for Athens or Kingdom Rock. Thank you for reading About the Children's Department and thank you Group for sending the CDs for me to give away!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

VeggieTales The Little House That Stood - I'm Giving One Away!

What do you get when you combine Jesus' parable of the wise & foolish builders, the three pigs and VeggieTales? Well . . . you get the new Veggie story, "The Little House That Stood . . . along with plenty of laughs and silliness, but most importantly, you get solid teaching about how we need to follow the "Master Builder's Handbook" and build our lives on a firm foundation!

VBS Music Give-Away Tomorrow!

Yes, tomorrow, February 10, 2013, I'm giving away CDs of both of Group Publishing's VBS resources for 2013. You'll find the reviews and info at this link, but if you are planning to use Athens or Kingdom Rock, definitely get in on this give-away! If you are not planning to use either of these VBS resources, still get in on this give-away as the music has great songs you can and will use all year long!

And "stay tuned" because on February 12th I'm giving away two free one-year subscriptions to Christian Games & Crafts, on February 13th I'm giving away one free Mission Project Pack from Standard Publishing, on February 14th I'm giving away one free music CD from Orange, on February 15th I'm giving away one free VBS kit from Answers in Genesis and on February 16th I'm giving away one puppet from Concordia Publishing and one from Cokesbury! It will be a fun and busy week of give-aways!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Be Sure to Train Your Volunteers for Vacation Bible School!

I absolutely understand how difficult it is to get volunteers to attend teacher training . . . we are all so busy! But, when it comes to presenting the best, most effective VBS it is essential your volunteers are trained; so schedule your training now and be sure to communicate to your volunteers the training is an absolutely essential, not-to-be-missed event! Consider the following . . . 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Plan Your Vacation Bible School Volunteer Recruitment!

Once you decide which Vacation Bible School resource is the best "fit" for your unique ministry it is time to begin sharing your goals and vision with the people in your church and start thinking about the important and fun "task" of finding your volunteers! Consider the following . . . 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

VBS 2013 - Promoting Your Vacation Bible School

So, you've spent time reading Vacation Bible School reviews - such as the ones you'll find on Ministry-to-Children and here on my blog . . . look under the tab at the top entitled VBS - and have signed out a couple kits on consignment from your local Christian bookstore. You've evaluated the themes and scope based on your vision and goals for your unique children's ministry and have selected the kits you want to use in VBS and in other ministries; so what can you do to promote your VBS so the children and families in your community know when and where they can go to participate? Consider the following . . . 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Let's Get More Out of Our Vacation Bible School Resources . . . Mid-Week Children's Ministry All Year Long!

When you evaluate Vacation Bible School curriculum, be sure to think about how VBS resources might give you the tools you need for your mid-week ministry to children! You won't necessarily need an entire kit, but if you have the Bible lessons, games and craft books as well as the music you'll have what you need for ten weeks of mid week ministry by using one lesson for two weeks! Run your mid-week ministry similar to your VBS and the enthusiasm you have with your VBS can transfer to your mid-week ministry! Three resources will give you enough materials for one year of mid-week ministry so think about the curriculum scope, your vision/goals for your mid-week ministry and then see which VBS resources give you the tools you need.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Let's Get More Out of Our Vacation Bible School Resources . . . Mission Trips!

Today I'm going to share an idea on how to re-use the VBS resources you select for your VBS . . . a great way to get more out of your CE dollars!

Many, if not most, churches plan a mission trip for their teens during the summer. Some are quite the major undertaking - even on an international level - while others may be more locally based. My daughter and son went on mission trips each summer with their youth group - mostly to other areas of the country - but they also went on additional mission trips with groups like Reign Ministries (my son went to Nepal/Thailand, England, France, Spain, Italy, Greece and the Island of Rhodes), Youth for Christ (my daughter went to Mexico) and ZJAM (my daughter went to Costa Rica). I strongly believe in the value of teens being involved in summer mission trips big and small. When youth groups plan a mission trip, typically there is a component of the trip where the teens work with children . . . this is the ideal opportunity to re-use your VBS resources! If your church's VBS is before the mission trip, the teens can help with your VBS - great opportunity for them to prepare for their mission trip and more importantly, helps communicate to the teens serving is not just something they do once a year on a mission trip, but is something they can do in their own church all year!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Put Feet to Their Faith - Amazima Ministries

Back in December I reviewed a bookKisses from Katie. This book is the story of Katie Davis and how she, took "Jesus at His word and truly valued what and who He values." Katie, moved to Uganda, Africa, and cared for children. She washed and cared for their physical wounds and cared for their emotional and spiritual wounds by giving her all to love them with the love of Jesus. To say her story is "challenging" doesn't even come close. Katie ended up adopting 14 girls and literally caring for - feeding, clothing and providing medical care and an education for hundreds of children. She says she can't change a country, but she can be used of Jesus to change the lives of some children who can go on to change their country!

Valentine's Day Craft - "God's Conversation Hearts"!

Gods Conversation Hearts Favor Idea  / Church Valentine craft!I was looking on Pinterest for Valentine's Day craft ideas and found one I didn't expect . . .   God's Conversation Hearts. I love the idea of taking the opportunity Valentine's Day gives to focus, not just on "love", but on the most amazing love ever . . . God's love for us!

All you need is conversation hearts, plastic wrap, ribbon and print out a tag which says - 

Let's Get More Out of Our Vacation Bible School Resources . . . Summer Fun Days!

As I've said before, Vacation Bible School resources are one of your best curriculum buys of the year! Publishers put a lot of thought and attention into determining which Bible lessons they will use, how to add creativity and imagination to the games, craft and setting and selecting music which best reinforces the Bible lessons and point. Each and every year you are presented with more than a dozen well developed resources to evaluate and select the one which will best "fit" your own unique ministry. This is a difficult choice and most churches narrow their choices down to their favorite two or three resources . . . I'd like to encourage you to get those two or three and use them all - because if you have them, you will use them!

Please Pray

Please continue to pray for the little boy, Ethan, who is being held hostage in Alabama. Please pray for his family; I know if he were my grandson I'd be seriously in need of your prayers. Please also pray for the family of the bus driver as they have his funeral today; he was a hero who gave his life trying to protect the children on his bus. And please pray for the man who has caused all this pain; pray he will come to his senses and allow Ethan to return to his family. Please continue to pray.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

VBS 2013 - Let's Get More Out of Our Vacation Bible School Resources - Summer Sundays!

In this day and age where many, if not most, of us have definite budget "issues" to deal with, it is absolutely essential we do all we can to get the most out of the resources we purchase for use in our ministries. When I worked for Kregel Bookstores each year there were churches which made the difficult choice to end their VBS due to budget issues. I acknowledge it costs money to have a VBS ministry, but want to encourage you to consider additional ways to "stretch" those VBS resources and use them in additional ways rather than eliminate your VBS ministry. When we are able to get "more" out of our VBS, we are not only being good stewards, but we are able to grow and expand our ministry as opposed to limiting and reducing it.

I Have a Winner!

I'm happy to announce Frank Tan is the winner of the Knights of God VBS curriculum (you'll find the review at this link). Thank you Frank for reading About the Children's Department (please message me the email you want NextGen4Christ to use to contact you) and thank you NextGen4Christ for making this available for me to give away!